Not My President—A Letter from the Editor-in-Chief SpecGram Vol CLXXVIII, No 2 Contents A Look Back: Linguistics Headlines of 2016—The SpecGram Newshounds™

Letters to the Editor

Dear Sirs,

I must protest against Associate Editor Pete Bleackley’s editorial on computational linguistics. The introduction of new-fangled, untested, and potentially dangerous programming languages like Perl and Python, in parallel with the introduction of new-fangled, untestable, and potentially wicked frameworks like Optimality Theory and Minimalism and the dangerous mingling of Matlab and instrumental phonetics forming the centerpiece of his editorial, threatens to sever what little commonality remains between his self-appointed elite and the general run of humanity. The BASIC I was taught at my grandfather’s knee, the Transformational-Generative Grammar I was taught at his other knee, and the broad and narrow transcription I had previously been taught at his knees before he had them replaced are all the tools a true linguist needs, computational or otherwise.

Egbert Kentworth Dodd
Independent Scholar
Grassrange, Montana

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Dear Egghead,

Thank you for your letter, which arrived by pony express. We very much appreciate your effort in writing with a fresh quill just for us but please do write on paper rather than parchment next time.

As for your comments on P. Bleackley’s editorial, we must remind you that all opinions expressed in this journal are the opinions of the authors and not necessarily the opinions of anyone of the other editors (apart from the Editor-in-Chiefhe was assimilated into the collective long ago). We do, however, take your point about these new-fangled languages. Many of us were trained in the subtle art of BASIC and always thought that a C command was something given by a Rear Admiral. Yet, just as one must learn to drink from a new vessel when the interns break your coffee mug at one of their soirées, one must also consent to the onward march of computational progress.

Sadly, people now believe that BASIC is out of date, just as they believe that corpus linguistics actually tells us something interesting. Whether we believe them or not is immaterial; the main thing is that they hold the purse strings and the research agenda is on their side. Still, once you have tenure you can always learn to ignore any new information, especially information that dares to question your theories, so there is that.

So we would suggest that you let go of your inhibitions and attempt to understand the whims of the computational set. And in the meantime, try learning Pascal. We’d wager it will be worth your while.


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Dear Mr Dudd,

Whatever you learnt at your grandfather’s various knees, your confusion between Matlab and Matplotlib suggests it did not include basic literacy.

Pete Bleackley
Associate Editor

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Dear Peter Bleackley, Associate Editor,

Discussions of programming languages are far afield for this publication, but now you’ve stooped to discussing the content of programming, and that is a step too far. We’ll have to ask you to leave Matlock and his various kin out of these pages, or your editorial title and salary will be further reduced.

Keith Slater
Executive Editor

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Dear Keith Slater, Executive Editor,

Slater, watch you don’t overstep. You’ve seen what happened to Pulju when he got too uppity. But this time, I’ll allow it.

Trey Jones

P.S.: Bleackley, I know you speak some archaic form of Ye Olde English over there in Ye Olde England, but would it kill you people to use a period after title abbreviations? Sheesh.

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Dear Trey Jones, Editor-in-Chief, et al.,

Thanks very much for all of your thoughtful and thought-provoking replies to replies to replies. Not only are they hard to follow, they have the added benefit of making it very easy to fill our letters quota in this issue.

—The Letters Interns

Dear Speculative Grammarian,

We have your equipment. Pay us $1,000,000 by the end of the month or we will return it.

Big Noam’s Boyz

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Dear Foamy Noamy’s Homies,

We knew it was you all along, but for insurance purposes we needed to file the police report.

The tracking devices in the XT Uzi/reel-to-reel recorders have finally revealed the location of Noam’s secret home in the catacombs, and he will soon be revealed as the supervillain that he is.

Long before this reply is published, our paramilitary strikeforce will have paid you “a visit”. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!


[Note: Alas, an intern sent this reply directly to Big Noam’s Boyz, along with the large gift basket we normally send the writers of all printed letters. As a result, they’d cleared out and burnt the place down before our forces arrived.

Since no amount of flogging would be enough to atone for this level of blunder, we’re using the intern responsible to flog other interns. We’ll get you next time, Noam! —Eds.]

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Dear Editors:

In the article “On the Scientific Beautification of Personal Names,” you list the authors, Heidi Ideo and Velma Phlembotaine, as graduate students in our department.

Please note that thanks to publication of their article, they are now former graduate students in our department. Thank you again for publishing their paper; it was just what the faculty council needed.

Sincerely yours,
Felicia Galsworthy,
Chair and Professor,
Dept. of Linguistics,
West Virginia University
Institute of General and
Remedial Studies at

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Dear (Un)Happy Gal,

While we were happy to print Ideo and Phlembotaine’s findings, we felt the paper lacked something. Maybe it needed more vuvuzelas. Maybe a little Liviabella. Perhaps a fieldwork trip to Venezuela or the Brazilian favelas. We have enough suggestions to fill a novella...

The MacArthur Foundation seems to have no such qualms, however, and we have heard through the grapevine that these two are in the running for genius grants. Holy Cinderella’s a cappella umbrella!that was unexpected!


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Dear Sir/Madam/Gender-neutral salutation,

I was thinking of contributing my latest research on the sociolinguistics of PhD supervision meetings to your fabulous journal but I did not see your impact factor.

Does Speculative Grammarian have an impact factor?

Winkel Junksci

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Dear Winky Junky,

We referred your question to our archive staff, who report that our impact on the field, taking into account changes in terminology, is super×fantasticwow! * (We are especially pleased by the factorial in the exponent.)

So, to answer your question, our current impact factor is super.

They add that in other periods, our impact factor ranged from forweorþfullic, praestans, and превосходно to ἀμβρόσιος and 極俊, but remind us that reporting standards cannot be considered comparable.


* p.c. 5 Sep 1762; p.c. 2 Mar 1817; p.c. 13 Apr 1853; p.c. 16 Dec 1921; p.c. 22 Aug 1977; p.c. 16 Jan 2004.

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Speculative Grammarian accepts well-written letters commenting on specific articles that appear in this journal or discussing the field of linguistics in general. We also accept poorly-written letters that ramble pointlessly. We reserve the right to ridicule the poorly-written ones and publish the well-written ones... or vice versa, at our discretion.

Not My PresidentA Letter from the Editor-in-Chief
A Look Back: Linguistics Headlines of 2016The SpecGram Newshounds™
SpecGram Vol CLXXVIII, No 2 Contents